Thursday, October 8, 2009

Mr. J

Okay, so I've been absent from posting for a while - my laptop died suddenly, and I had to replace it. So now I have a shiny new Mac that will be fab for updating blogs. :)

Anyway, last time I posted, I told you about Mr. A and his behavioral problems in school; this time, let's talk about Mr. J.

Mr. J was a pre-school kid, though he was in the Kindergarten prep class. The kids in this class are students who were just slightly too young to start Kindergarten during the current school year - maybe they missed the cut off date by a month or two in either direction (a lot of parents don't want their child to be the youngest one in their grade level, so choose instead to keep them home for an extra year, making them one of the older ones in their grade with the hopes of turning them into a social and academic leader). Mr. J was five and big for his age... not overweight, just tall and made of solid wiry muscle.

He was also extremely hyperactive. Like Mr. A, he was fine (for the most part) when his parents were there, but as soon as they left he went nuts. Mary, his teacher, worked hard to keep him occupied, and most of the time it worked just fine. However...

There were times when he had "episodes," or as they would say on the late great Wonderfalls, "a 'sode." These episodes were basically times when Mr. J lost it. It was never about anything big, always something little. One time he had a complete breakdown because his turn was done with the paints and the easel. Another time, because he didn't want to go out to the playground... or didn't want to come in. All kinds of things.

But there was one particular time when he had a 'sode that's worth noting. Lots of kids can get violent--usually it's towards other kids, and their teachers break them up, and by doing so the kids start to learn not to fight, and they develop social skills and all that. In high school you have to worry about students attacking each other more dangerously and sometimes threatening teachers, but Mr. J, this hyper little five year old, decided to take on Mary.

It was late in the afternoon, and the day had been extremely uneventful. The students were divided between two tables, working on a coloring project to help develop reading and writing skills, and Mr. J decided he didn't want to do it. I was working with a little girl who needed help writing something, and all of the students were so engrossed in their work that we didn't even notice right away that Mr. J had left the table and Mary had followed him.

Next thing I know, Mr. J is underneath my table, crawling between the students' feet and giggling this high-pitched laugh. Mary followed him around the table, spouting off typical teacher sayings: "Come out right now, Mr. J," and "if you can't control yourself, we need to go to the think spot."

When Mr. J refused to come out, Mary gave up and started to walk away--so Mr. J reached out from under the table, grabbed her ankle, and pulled her off her feet to the ground. She fell against the other table, knocked over a chair, and landed hard on her hands and knees.

And did I mention that Mary was pregnant? Yeah.

I have never seen a classroom of young children go so quiet so fast. Fifteen four- and five-year-olds sat in stunned silence with their mouths open. Mary ended up man-handling Mr. J out from beneath the table and carrying him by the underarms out of the room, Mr. J screaming all the while. She took him to the neighboring classroom, whose students were already dismissed, and dropped him off with the teachers there, who had no luck calming him down either.

When Mr. J's father arrived about ten minutes later, he was completely contrite and kept asking for ice cream and a new toy.

Just to put it in perspective, the previous school year Mr. J had another tantrum and kicked one of the other teacher's aides--we'll call her Ginny--in the chest so hard that she had a foot-shaped brownish-green bruise for a month.

So the lesson is this: parents--your children behave differently at school. If a teacher has done something to discipline your child because their behavior is out of hand, please help reinforce the lesson at home. Don't attack the teacher and insist your child is an angel and everything is the teacher's fault. You're entrusting your child to this teacher for the length of a typical work day. During that time, he or she is in charge of instructing your child in academics and in social skills... and if a child is acting up, not doing his or her work, or anything else that happens to be unacceptable, the teacher needs to take some sort of action without the threat of being fired because the parents think their child is the next coming of Christ.


Anyway, that's the story of Mr. J. He was pretty extreme, as was Mr. A. You wouldn't think pre-schoolers could do so much damage, but apparently they can! I'd be really interested to see these two boys in fifteen years to see how they turn out.



  1. Seriously! I thought working in the pre-school was going to be the easiest thing in the world, but those kids were a handful. This is not to say they were all horrendous - plenty of them were great kids - but there were a few that were just mind-boggling.

  2. When I was in third grade, a small girl (small for a third grader) actually picked up a desk and threw it. I can't remember if she was aiming for anything, but it was easily one of the scariest experiences of my elementary school career.